History and birth of rum

History and birth of rum

Jul 06, 2022


Ilaria Rosa

Rum is a brandy obtained from the distillation of sugar cane juice, or from molasses which is the waste from the processing of the cane itself.
Its history has very ancient origins, in fact we are talking about 6000 BC, at that time in China and India the fermented drinks made from sugar cane juice were in the form of molasses to be tasted. Alexander the Great in 325 BC brought sugar cane from New Guinea to Asia Minor. In the fourth century A.D. in India, local populations produce the first alcoholic beverages very similar to rum, brum. Marco Polo also passed through Asia during his trip, and spoke of an excellent sugar wine that they produced in Malaysia.

The first distillery that can be defined similar to the present ones seems to have been born in London in the fifteenth century, from Indian sugar cane; after the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, the American one began to be used as well. Rum consumption takes hold in the Caribbean, where it is popular as a drink with which sailors, slaves and settlers quenched their thirst. There was also a drink that the same sugar cane farmers consumed, its production grows considerably thanks to the labor of the slaves who work in the colonies, for a great almost industrial result at no cost; it was they who thought of distilling the by-product of cane processing to make alcohol.

The first type of brandy produced was very raw, with a very high alcohol content, almost undrinkable, given the disproportionate sugar concentration of the molasses. The sugar cane after being planted is left to grow for a year and a half; subsequently after the harvest it is brought to the mill, here some stone or metal wheels extract the juice by crushing it. The collected liquid is fermented and the must called "vesou" is distilled in copper stills, the impurities are removed by eliminating the head and tail. The product obtained is aged in wooden barrels according to the recipe followed by the individual producers, the rum obtained with this procedure is the one called "agricultural".

The juice used for the production of sugar is boiled in large copper pots until the liquid part has evaporated, the remaining part is an almost solidified sugary slime mass, which is then refined and transformed into sugar. The refining waste is molasses, an aqueous solution with a sucrose concentration between 20/30%, but which can no longer be crystallized. To recover this cheaper waste, it is diluted with water and fermented with chemical yeasts, and then distilled to obtain industrial Rum. The Cuban rum "Havana" produced with molasses, is one of the few that uses only a series of indigenous yeasts, and to try to give the same flavor to all the batches produced, it is stored and mixed before bottling.

The world of this distillate is very wide, and is closely linked to the history of the Caribbean and South America, but it is not only attributable to the pirates who sought treasures and drank rum, it was in fact also a way to keep the men of the colonies who cultivated calm. sugar cane.
Even in the north in the English colonies, rum was drunk before Whiskey Bourbon clearly took over, also because it would have been crazy to throw away all that molasses.

The distillate of that time was far from today's, it is said that it was a strong, aggressive and almost toxic liquid. The modern one is distinguished according to the territory and not only in taste, but also by the name. We find:
- Rum, from the English colonies
- Rhum, from the French colonies
- the Ron, from the Spanish ones.
Rum can be strong and rude, but very meaty and down to earth; it is dark in color and more spicy. The agricultural rums of Martinique are intense, white and floral, but also subtle, pungent and rich in complex notes with tropical flavors. The Cuban Ron has a soft taste and is the lightest, it is filtered and clarified; it is great for making cocktails with lime and fruit juices because its flavor is never too intrusive.

Stories, tales and legends have contributed to making Rum famous, it is said that Admiral Nelson's remains were preserved in a rum barrel on the ship, this would have allowed the body to reach the earth as intact as possible for a worthy burial. But the sailors, constantly tempted by the liquor in the barrel, decided to drill a hole to drink a small part of it, but unfortunately, day after day, they drank the entire contents. Nelson's blood rum took its name from this curious legend.
There are many types of this fantastic drink to be savored and tasted.

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